Sunday, June 1, 2008

And the Winners are...

When I was a young man, many eons ago, I was walking home from work one winter night in the snow. The flakes had been falling all day. Even though it was dark, the white covering over all seemed to give off its own light. The sidewalks were tricky, some deep with drifts making the legs weary with the effort to walk and then would come patches where someone had shoveled earlier in the day. These had been recovered and slick underfoot. At the end of one of these nearly cleared paths I slipped. It was jolting as I tried to catch my balance, but I failed and fell face down on the pavement. Most of my body landed where snow had been once or twice removed leaving no cushion for my body. My face fell just beyond where the next door neighbor had not shoveled and was buried in cold mush.

This seemed a dirty trick after working a long day. I knew from the way I wrenched my body I would feel it tomorrow and it was uncomfortable with snow under my collar and sliding beneath my coat and shirt. This was bad.

Wait, no, this was good. As I pushed myself off the ground I felt paper beneath scratch my cheek. I picked it up and saw several bills totaling twenty dollars. Someone else had had the bad day, perhaps falling at this very spot when they lost this money. I felt sorry for them, but it was lost money with no identification. I tucked it in my pocket, got back on my feet and headed home whistling a happy tune. Twenty dollars had real value in the early 'sixties. You could go to a "fancy" restaurant then and buy a steak dinner for two, with cocktails and desert for $12.

Sometimes when we think we've taken a bad fall, we get rewarded instead. Other times, as shown in my last two posts, what we take as one of our best days, turns out to be one of our worst. It works the other way as well. Here are what I consider some of my best days.

Best Day Number 3: The day we lost our seventh child. That’s right, our seventh. How in the world could that be a best day? Here is the scene. My wife was in her fifth month of pregnancy lying in a maternity room with a drip in her arm to impede labor. She was to be this way for a week. I was at her side every moment after work. There was a monitor nearby recording the heart of the baby inside her. All that time, beep, beep, beep on that machine, the beat of a life fighting to continue living. It was a strong beat, but it was doomed.

One day a doctor called me aside to say it was dangerous to my wife to stall labor longer. Now the drip in the arm was inducing labor. Beep, beep, beep, drip, drip, drip, this was the sound of an execution. Although the baby had a strong heart, her lungs weren’t ready for the outside world and Amy never lived to hear her name.

I heard something more than her heart beat. I heard proof that something existed I didn’t believe in – God. The life desire in the beating of my unborn child’s heart was more than a bodily function of accidental animals.

There was depression and malaise following this seventh tiny death. It was such a devastation to my wife, such a depth of suffering to her, that I could not selfishly brood over my own despair. As a desperate attempt to resurrect something within us I suggested we try church again. There was a brand new church just opened near us and we went there. The sermon, taken from James, "Elijah was a man just like Us" James 5:17, spoke directly to my pain and a few days later I turned my life over to Christ.

Best Day Number 2: This is a sequence stretching from September 2001 through January 2006. Two days after my 21st anniversary with them, my employer terminated me for having the audacity to turn 60 years old. (My interview with the Outsourcing Agency in the tallest building of the city was cancelled for some reason on September 11, 2001.) In the opening days of 2006, I went to the annual congregational meeting of my church only to discover I had been erased from the rolls. The minister pointed to a group of us, called us goats that needed to be separated from the sheep. In less than five years I had lost my long time job and my long time church.

These are two of my best days? Losing a job, suddenly unemployed, my savings quickly drying up, thrown into debt to the IRS by circumstance? Yes. Being branded a heretic to be driven from my place of sanctuary and comfort? Yes.

It made me examine how far I had wandered away since I first came to the Lord. How complacent I had become. How willing to drift along with the world I was. But before I discovered the truth about myself I had to deal with the anger. I was angry and distraught about what the church had done. I wanted to prove them wrong. This drove me back into the Bible looking for their error. Instead I discovered my error. It was not that they were right in what they did to a lot of people that January evening. It was it didn't matter. We were better off cut off from what our old church had become.

More importantly it was a good slap upside my head, my "coulda had a V-8 moment". Like a dousing in cold water awakes a dreamer, I was shocked out of my lethargy. My spirit was revived and my priorities were set in the proper order. This made those days the better ones of my life.

What will be my Number One Best Day? Easy! The day I die will be the best day of my life. I get to worship God where he dwells and live forever in the new Heaven and Earth.

Does this mean I want to die right this minute? Absolutely not. I may be of service yet here on earth and there is much I enjoy about this life. I expect there will be down days and up days for many years to come. All it means is I don’t fear living and I don’t fear dying. And I know events are not always what they seem, that sometimes good is bad and bad is good, but in the end good wins.

1 comment:

  1. Hey Larry,

    That was a very good post.. and in the end good wins.. That is some encouraging words..Thank you larry for sharing this.. I understand what you mean when you say a bad day can be the best day..It's in these times that we learn so much from the Lord just as you have stated.

    Tamela :)